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104th Congress                                                   Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 2d Session                                                     104-789
_______________________________________________________________________

 
                 PAROLE COMMISSION PHASEOUT ACT OF 1996

_______________________________________________________________________


 September 16, 1996.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on 
            the State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

 Mr. Hyde, from the Committee on the Judiciary, submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                         [To accompany S. 1507]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

  The Committee on the Judiciary, to whom was referred the Act 
(S. 1507) to provide for the extension of the Parole Commission 
to oversee cases of prisoners sentenced under prior law, to 
reduce the size of the Parole Commission, and for other 
purposes, having considered the same, report favorably thereon 
with an amendment and recommend that the Act as amended do 
pass.

                                CONTENTS

                                                                   Page
The Amendment....................................................     1
Purpose and Summary..............................................     2
Background and Need for Legislation..............................     3
Hearings.........................................................     3
Committee Consideration..........................................     3
Vote of the Committee............................................     3
Committee Oversight Findings.....................................     4
Committee on Government Reform and Oversight Findings............     4
New Budget Authority and Tax Expenditures........................     4
Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate........................     4
Inflationary Impact Statement....................................     5
Section-by-Section Analysis......................................     5
Agency Views.....................................................     6
Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported............     7

                             The Amendment

  The amendment is as follows:
  Strike out all after the enacting clause and insert in lieu 
thereof the following:

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

  This Act may be cited as the ``Parole Commission Phaseout Act of 
1996''.

SEC. 2. EXTENSION OF PAROLE COMMISSION.

  (a) In General.--For purposes of section 235(b) of the Sentencing 
Reform Act of 1984 (98 Stat. 2032) as it related to chapter 311 of 
title 18, United States Code, and the Parole Commission, each reference 
in such section to ``ten years'' or ``ten-year period'' shall be deemed 
to be a reference to ``fifteen years'' or ``fifteen-year period'', 
respectively.
  (b) Powers and Duties of Parole Commission.--Notwithstanding section 
4203 of title 18, United States Code, the United States Parole 
Commission may perform its functions with any quorum of Commissioners, 
or Commissioner, as the Commission may prescribe by regulation.
  (c) Reduction in Size.--
          (1) Effective December 31, 1999, the total number of 
        Commissioners of the United States Parole Commission shall not 
        be greater than 2. To the extent necessary to achieve this 
        reduction, the Commissioner or Commissioners least senior in 
        service shall cease to hold office.
          (2) Effective December 31, 2001, the United States Parole 
        Commission shall consist only of that Commissioner who is the 
        Chairman of the Commission;
          (3) Effective when the Commission consists of only one 
        Commissioner--
                  (A) that Commissioner (or in the Commissioner's 
                absence, the Attorney General) may delegate to one or 
                more hearing examiners the powers set forth in 
                paragraphs (1) through (4) of section 4203(b) of title 
                18, United States Code; and
                  (B) decisions made pursuant to such delegation shall 
                take effect when made, but shall be subject to review 
                and modification by the Commissioner.

SEC. 3. REPORTS BY THE ATTORNEY GENERAL.

  (a) In General.--Beginning in the year 1998, the Attorney General 
shall report to the Congress not later than May 1 of each year through 
the year 2002 on the status of the United States Parole Commission. 
Unless the Attorney General, in such report, certifies that the 
continuation of the Commission is the most effective and cost-efficient 
manner for carrying out the Commission's functions, the Attorney 
General shall include in such report an alternative plan for a transfer 
of the Commission's functions to another entity.
  (b) Transfer within the Department of Justice.--
          (1) Effect of plan.--If the Attorney General includes such a 
        plan in the report, and that plan provides for the transfer of 
        the Commission's functions and powers to another entity within 
        the Department of Justice, such plan shall take effect 
        according to its terms on November 1 of that year in which the 
        report is made, unless Congress by law provides otherwise. In 
        the event such plan takes effect, all laws pertaining to the 
        authority and jurisdiction of the Commission with respect to 
        individual offenders shall remain in effect notwithstanding the 
        expiration of the period specified in section 2 of this Act.
          (2) Conditional repeal.--Effective on the date such plan 
        takes effect, paragraphs (3) and (4) of section 235(b) of the 
        Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 (98 Stat 2032) are repealed.

SEC. 4. REPEAL.

  Section 235(b)(2) of the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 (98 Stat. 
2032) is repealed.

                           Purpose and Summary

    The United States Parole Commission is currently set to 
expire on November 1, 1997. S. 1507, the ``Parole Commission 
Phaseout Act,'' would extend the United States Parole 
Commission for an additional five years.
    S. 1507 also requires the Attorney General to report to 
Congress every year on the progress of the phaseout, and it 
directs the Attorney General to suggest an alternative plan for 
a more cost-effective and efficient manner to carry out the 
Parole Commission's functions. S. 1507 also mandates a 
reduction in the number of Commissioners.

                Background and Need for the Legislation

    In the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984, (Pub. L. 98-473), 
Congress eliminated eligibility for parole for all federal 
offenders whose crimes were committed on or after November 1, 
1987. To handle the prisoners who had committed crimes before 
November 1, 1987, so called ``old law'' prisoners, Congress 
continued the Parole Commission until November 1, 1992. Because 
of the large number of ``old law'' prisoners still in prison by 
1992, and because the Sentencing Reform Act did not make any 
provisions for continuing the necessary functions of the Parole 
Commission beyond that date, Congress extended the life of the 
Parole Commission until November 1, 1997, in the Judicial 
Improvements Act of 1990, (Pub. L. 101-650). Currently, the 
Parole Commission is set to expire on that date, and S. 1507, 
the ``Parole Commission Phaseout Act,'' would extend the life 
of the Parole Commission for an additional five years.
    At the end of fiscal year 1996, there will still be 
approximately 6,700 parole-eligible, ``old law'' defendants in 
the federal system. Constitutional requirements, specifically 
the ex post facto clause, necessitate the extension of the 
Commission, or the establishment of a similar entity authorized 
by statute to perform its functions. Otherwise, those remaining 
``old law'' offenders will file habeas corpus petitions, 
seeking release on the grounds that their right to be 
considered for parole had been unconstitutionally eliminated. 
If such petitions were successful, public safety may be 
jeopardized by the release of dangerous criminals.
    The Committee has also determined that the most cost-
efficient approach at the present time for considering parole 
applications for federal prisoners is to use the Parole 
Commission's resources.

                                Hearings

    The Committee's Subcommittee on Crime held one day of 
hearings on S. 1507 on June 6, 1996. Testimony was received 
from three witnesses: Chairman Edward F. Reilly, representing 
the United States Parole Commission, Robert S. Litt, Deputy 
Assistant Attorney General, representing the Department of 
Justice, and Judge Richard J. Arcara, representing the Judicial 
Conference of the United States. Additional material was 
submitted by the United States Marshals Service.

                        Committee Consideration

    On July 10, 1996, the Subcommittee on Crime met in open 
session and ordered favorably reported the bill S. 1507 by a 
voice vote, a quorum being present. On September 11, 1996, the 
Full Committee met in open session and ordered reported 
favorably the bill S. 1507 without amendment by a voice vote, a 
quorum being present.

                         Vote of the Committee

    There were no recorded votes.

                      Committee Oversight Findings

    In compliance with clause 2(l)(3)(A) of rule XI of the 
Rules of the House of Representatives, the Committee reports 
that the findings and recommendations of the Committee, based 
on oversight activities under clause 2(b)(1) of rule X of the 
Rules of the House of Representatives, are incorporated in the 
descriptive portions of this report.

         Committee on Government Reform and Oversight Findings

    No findings or recommendations of the Committee on 
Government Reform and Oversight were received as referred to in 
clause 2(l)(3)(D) of rule XI of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives.

               New Budget Authority and Tax Expenditures

    Clause 2(l)(3)(B) of House rule XI is inapplicable because 
this legislation does not provide new budgetary authority or 
increased tax expenditures.

               Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate

    In compliance with clause 2(l)(C)(3) of rule XI of the 
Rules of the House of Representatives, the Committee sets 
forth, with respect to the bill, S. 1507, the following 
estimate and comparison prepared by the Director of the 
Congressional Budget Office under section 403 of the 
Congressional Budget Act of 1974:

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                Washington, DC, September 16, 1996.
Hon. Henry J. Hyde,
Chairman, Committee on the Judiciary,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
reviewed S. 1507, the Parole Commission Phaseout Act of 1996, 
as ordered reported by the House Committee on the Judiciary on 
September 11, 1996. CBO estimates that enacting this act would 
result in no significant impact on the federal budget. S. 1507 
would not affect direct spending or receipts, so pay-as-you-go 
procedures would not apply. The act contains no 
intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as defined in the 
Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (Public Law 104-4) and 
would have no effect on the budgets of state, local, or tribal 
governments.
    In 1987, the federal government eliminated parole for 
persons convicted of federal crimes and the United States 
Parole Commission was scheduled to be phased out over five 
years. A subsequent law extended the commission to 1997. S. 
1507 would extend the commission for an additional five years, 
providing for a gradual reduction in size and phaseout by the 
year 2002.
    The United States Parole Commission has parole jurisdiction 
over all eligible federal prisoners and continuing jurisdiction 
over those released on parole. The commission projects that at 
the end of fiscal year 1997 there will be an incarcerated 
caseload of about 6,000 and a parolee caseload of about 10,000. 
These numbers have declined over the past several years and 
will continue to decrease, but substantial numbers will remain 
through the end of the decade and thereafter. Thus, even if the 
commission is terminated as expected under current law, another 
federal agency (such as the Department of Justice) would have 
to assume the paroling function and its inherent costs.
    The United States Parole Commission received an 
appropriation of $5.4 million for fiscal year 1996, down from 
$7.5 million in 1995 and $9.1 million in 1994. Steadily 
decreasing budgets are anticipated for the commission's 
declining workload. Some requirements for the paroling function 
will continue beyond 1997, however, when the commission in 
currently scheduled to terminate. The costs of completing that 
workload are likely to be roughly the some whether the paroling 
function is conducted by the commission or another agency. 
Thus, CBO estimates that enacting S. 1507 and continuing the 
commission would not result in any significant costs to the 
federal government, relative to current law.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Mark 
Grabowicz.
            Sincerely,
                                         June E. O'Neill, Director.

                     Inflationary Impact Statement

    Pursuant to clause 2(l)(4) of rule XI of the Rules of the 
House of Representatives, the Committee estimates that S. 1507 
will have no significant inflationary impact on prices and 
costs in the national economy.

                      Section-by-Section Analysis

                         Section 1. Short Title

    This section states that the short title of the bill is the 
``Parole Commission Phaseout Act of 1996.''

               Sec. 2. Extension of the Parole Commission

    Subsection (a) of this section extends the Parole 
Commission for five years beyond its scheduled expiration date 
of November 1, 1997.
    Subsection (b) provides that the Commission may perform its 
functions with any quorum of Commissioners or Commissioner, as 
the Commission may prescribe by regulation. This recognizes 
that, with the downsizing of the Commission and reduction in 
the number of Commissioners, it will not be practical, or in 
some cases even possible, to make decisions under the 
procedures prescribed for the Commission when it was enacted in 
1976. The Committee expects the Commission will establish, by 
regulation, procedures that will include a provision for 
administrative appeal or reconsideration of its decisions.
    Subsection (c) provides for the downsizing of the number of 
Commissioners to no more than two effective December 31, 1999, 
and to no more than one (the Chair of the Commission), on 
December 31, 2001. Upon the reduction of the number of 
Commissioners to a single Commissioner, decision-making 
authority may be delegated to hearing examiners. A decision 
pursuant to this delegated authority shall take effect when 
made, but shall be subject to reconsideration by the 
Commissioner.

                Sec. 3. Reports by the Attorney General

    Subsection (a) provides that the Attorney General shall 
report to Congress by May 1 of each year on the status of the 
United States Parole Commission, and to certify that the 
continuation of the Commission is the most cost-effective and 
efficient method for carrying out the Commission's functions. 
If the Attorney General cannot so certify, then an alternative 
plan for transferring the Commission's functions to another 
entity must be included.
    Subsection (b) provides that if the Attorney General 
submits a plan to transfer the Commission's functions and 
powers to another entity within the Department of Justice, such 
plan shall take effect according to its term unless Congress by 
law provides otherwise. It is the Committee's intent, and this 
subsection further provides, that all laws pertaining to the 
authority and jurisdiction of the Commission with respect to 
individual offenders will remain in effect notwithstanding the 
expiration of the fifteen-year period specified in Section 2 of 
this Act. Such offenders will continue to serve their sentences 
subject to all applicable penalty provisions. Additionally, 
this subsection provides that, upon the taking effect of such 
plan, paragraphs (3) and (4) of Sec. 235(b) of the Sentencing 
Reform Act of 1984 are repealed.
    It is the Committee's strong desire that the Attorney 
General propose a reassignment of the Parole Commission's 
duties at the earliest date possible. The Committee hopes that 
further legislation on this issue will not be necessary.

                             Sec. 4. Repeal

    This section repeals subsection (b)(2) of the Sentencing 
Reform Act of 1894, a provision which extended the term of any 
Parole Commissioner holding office on November 1, 1987, for the 
duration of the Commission's existence. This repeal restores 
the twelve-year limitation on the service of Parole 
Commissioners in Sec. 4202 of title 18, United States Code. The 
repeal of this subsection is necessary for the orderly 
downsizing of the Parole Commission. It will reduce the number 
of Parole Commissioners currently serving from four to three in 
October, 1996.

                              Agency Views

                        U.S. Department of Justice,
                                    U.S. Parole Commission,
                                    Chevy Chase, MD, July 22, 1996.
Hon. Bill McCollum,
Chairman, Subcommittee on Crime, Committee on the Judiciary, 
        Washington, DC.
    Dear Congressman McCollum: I deeply appreciate the 
consideration that the Subcommittee on Crime has given to the 
U.S. Parole Commission and the personal interest taken by you 
and your staff in resolving this issue in the present session 
of Congress. I fully support the Amendment in the Nature of 
Substitute to S. 1507 that you introduced and the Subcommittee 
approved.
    I now ask your further assistance in ensuring that the full 
Committee approves this legislation at the earliest 
opportunity. I have written to Chairman Hyde asking that this 
be done, and I stand ready to assist in any way needed.
            Sincerely,
                                   Edward F. Reilly, Jr., Chairman.

         Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported

    In compliance with clause 3 of rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, changes in existing law made by 
the bill, as reported, are shown as follows (existing law 
proposed to be omitted is enclosed in black brackets and 
existing law in which no change is proposed is shown in roman):

            SECTION 235 OF THE SENTENCING REFORM ACT OF 1984

                             effective date

    Sec. 235. (a) * * *
    (b)(1) * * *
    [(2) Notwithstanding the provisions of section 4202 of 
title 18, United States Code, as in effect on the day before 
the effective date of this Act, the term of office of a 
Commissioner who is in office on the effective date is extended 
to the end of the five-year period after the effective date of 
this Act.]
          * * * * * * *